Phono Stage for Koetsu Black


What's the best reasonably priced phono stage for an older Black Koetsu MC cartridge.
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Define "Reasonably priced"?

The Koetsu Black is a really good cartridge, especially if getting great sounding vocals is your prime objective. I owned one for a year or so, before upgrading to the Rosewood Signature, (which has a bit better frequency extension, especially in the treble response). Anyway, I used an ARC PH-3 with mine and it worked very well. Used they can be had for about $700 or so.

The PH-3 had a bit of very low level tube hiss, but not too much, and it was nicely musical. It had just enough gain (54 db, as I recall), for the cartridge. But I would make sure that whatever phono stage you pick that it have at least that amount of gain, as it is a somewhat low output MC cartridge, (and preferably 60 db, to provide a bit of head room). FYI: From the reviews and measurements that I've read about, while Koetsu listed the Black as having a 0.60 mv output, it typically measures more like 0.45 mv output, (hence the reason for needing 55-60 db of gain.)

Good Luck in your search.

PS I would also not recommend getting a phono stage that was too "tubey" sounding, as the Koetsu is lush enough in the mid-range without it. (And too much of a good thing is just that, too much, IMHO.)
A good mainstream choice is EAR 834P.

For a very nice "under the radar" choice you can get a MM phono stage and Cinemag based SUT from Choir Audio for about $1150.

Both work very well with Koestu's.

There are probably cheaper options available but be careful about being too frugal - you don't want to buy something that will compromise the cartridge.
I can only speculate, but I suspect the EAR might be too laid back a match for the Koetsu.

I owned a Koetsu Rosewood Signature for a bit and preferred it with a battery operated solid state phono pre (Nighthawk) over a tubed Minimax (juggled the hell out of tubes trying to unlock the magic).

I suspect that a Koetsu Black and Ear 834 would be a mismatch for most folks.

Black is laid back and rounded; Ear is slow and sluggish.

Combining them is sonic molasses IMO.

Dealer disclaimer.
Tron Seven & Koetsu black would work well.
To each his own I guess. I have used a modified EAR 834P with a Koetsu RSP and it was fine. Currently using the Koetsu with either Shindo Masseto's internal MC (Lundahl transformer) or thru separate Hashimoto SUT. I like these a bit better than the EAR but it's not a major difference.

I also know that Brian Hartsell and Scott Franklin of Wavestream Electronics recommend the Koetsu/EAR pairing for those who can't afford the more expensive Wavestream phono stage.
Thanks all for the advice. Would a Project Tube Box II cut the mustard with the Black Koetsu?
The better the phono stage, the better the Koetsu would sound & give you that Koetsu magic.
I think Audiofeil hit it on the head.